On Thursday 12th October our teams across the Pacific celebrated World Sight Day. With a theme to #LoveYourEyes, World Sight Day is about helping people prioritise their eye health and ensuring that eye care is accessible, inclusive and affordable to everyone, everywhere. While our teams do this every day, on World Sight Day in particular, they put on events and celebrations to help draw even more attention to the importance of eye health and encourage as many people as possible to have their eyes tested. These activities have grown in size each year, helping us to reach even more people.
This year, the focus was on "loving your eyes at work”. In keeping with this, the teams included workplace visits in their agenda and promoted healthy habits for taking care of your eyes at work.
In Solomon Islands, the team from the Regional Eye Centre (REC) visited Our Telekom, The Ministry of Public Service, Lee Lwok Kuen Co & Ltd, DHL, and the Ministry of Health & Medical Services over the course of the week, where they provided free diabetes checks and eye screenings. The aim was to find people who have a high risk of developing sight-threatening diabetes eye disease (diabetic retinopathy). Early detection and intervention is key to prevent vision loss, so anyone identified during this screening was then referred to the REC for treatment.
As well as testing their vision, the team educated staff and employers about how to better look after their eyes at work. This can be as simple as adjusting computer screen settings and taking frequent screen breaks to prevent digital eye strain, or making sure your workplace offers the required eye safety gear.
On the day, they held an event at the REC where they provided free eye screening and gave out glasses donated by OPSM through their OneSight programme. What started out as a short hour of formal speeches, including powerful testimonials from three recent eye surgery patients, and pen pipe performances, quickly turned into a four hour Q&A session with members of the public asking all manner of questions about eyes and eye health. It was a great opportunity to educate and engage the crowd. As the audience grew, so did the lines for the free eye screening and glasses. Nevertheless, the team worked tirelessly to see everyone.
Over in Kiribati, the team there celebrated with a free community eye screening. They also had a great turn out, with people coming in from all over to have their vision tested. They were able to reach people who might not otherwise have access to eye care and to spread awareness about the importance of having regular eye checks.
Similarly in Vanuatu, the team offered free eye screenings down at the sea front for the general public. They screened close to 300 people and also gave out free sunglasses and protective glasses donated through the OneSight programme. Any patients found to have eyesight issues were then referred to the Vanuatu National Eye Centre for further assessment and treatment.
In Fiji, over the course of the week, the Pacific Eye Institute (PEI) team held several eye screenings at different offices and went on two radio talk shows to help educate the general public on the importance of looking after your eyes. They also performed 14 sight-restoring eye surgeries on children, an amazing achievement made possible thanks to the recently introduced general anaesthesia platform at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH), where PEI is based, and the PHACO machine which was installed last year.
On the official World Sight Day, the team ran comprehensive health checks at PEI for both patients and staff of the Colonial War Memorial Hospital. While the patients were waiting for their eye tests, the team took the opportunity to educate to them about eye heath issues, in particular diabetes eye disease, which is a growing concern in Fiji. To help raise further awareness of this, the team ran TV ads and billboards focusing on diabetes and how it can lead to blindness without early intervention and care. In total, from both the public health screening and the workplace visits, the PEI team screened just over 400 people.
Lastly in Papua New Guinea, two public awareness videos were put together that were aired on TV and radio. These videos highlighted eye health safety tips for office and construction workers, encouraging everyone to take care of their eyes so they can continue to see and do the things they love. View these videos, plus more photos from across the region on our Facebook page.